(Striker Jem, Mindanao Magazine)
A waste and pollution watchdog has appealed to local government and police officials to stop the practice of breaking confiscated TV sets used in illegal “video karera” (VK) gambling activities.
The practice of smashing TVs with mallets or sledgehammers by concerned officials, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, is turning the gambling problem into a real chemical pollution with far reaching implications.
“While it seems to make a good photo op for government and police authorities, the crushing, dumping or burning of TVs and other gambling paraphernalia is extremely injurious to human health and the environment and sends the wrong message about the management of unwanted electronics,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect.
“Improper destruction of gambling apparatuses and materials, particularly the TVs, causes their hazardous components to scatter not only in the immediate surroundings, but even in remote dumpsites and landfills where these are finally disposed of and thus polluting the air, soil and water, “ he added.
The confiscated gambling equipment should have been sent to government-accredited hazardous waste recycling and treatment facilities where the same can be properly dismantled to prevent and reduce toxic releases into the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
Old analog TV sets, which are often imported and used for illicit gambling business, contain a nasty mix of chemical substances belonging to the World Health Organization’s “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” the Stockholm Convention’s persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, as well as the Philippine “Priority Chemicals List.”
Among these poisonous substances are heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper and mercury, and flame retardant chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
Analog TVs contain huge quantities of lead, a toxic chemical that interferes with brain development, ranging from four to eight pounds that are mostly found in the cathode ray tubes.
According to the WHO, “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and, in some cases, irreversible neurological damage.”
During the past months, the EcoWaste Coalition has monitored media reports detailing the destruction of VK machines in the cities of Caloocan and Manila and in the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (CALABARZON) region as part of the government’s drive to beat illegal gaming.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim presided over the destruction of about a 100 VK machines from February to May, 2012.
Caloocan Mayor Enrico Echiverri led the smashing of 50 VK equipment last July 9 at the newly inaugurated Barugo Police Station in Barangay 175.
Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon Ejercito on June 25 led the destruction of over 100 VK TVs at Camp Heneral Paciano Rizal in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
While, Cavite police officials destroyed some 40 VK machines on July 2 at the Police Provincial Office in Trece Martirez City.
In 2011, the EcoWaste Coalition noted that the Butuan City government and police officials destroyed and set ablaze some 25 VK machines on March 9 at the City Hall grounds, while 17 VK units were also smashed and then burned by barangay leaders on February 14 in Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City.